Thursday, April 11, 2013

Saying "I'm sorry"

This post is a bit off topic, but it's something I feel is worth talking about. 

When my boys do something wrong, either purposefully or accidental, I've taught them to say "I'm sorry".  I believe in taking personal responsibility for our actions. If I bump into someone, even if it was their fault (maybe they weren't watching where they were going), I say "Oh, I'm sorry" (OK, I may roll my eyes and think negative things, but I still apologize).  If I've given misinformation at work, I say "I am so sorry, I was mistaken". When someone doesn't like a policy at work I say "I am so sorry about that..." and try my best to spin things back into the positive.

It never ceases to amaze me how two simple words can be so difficult to roll off of people's tongues. I realize it can be uncomfortable at times but it is worth the moment of uncomfortableness (is that even a word) to know that you've made someone feel better.  

What gets me even more is that Corporate America is stepping away from being sorry. Back in the day, the saying was "the customer is always right". When I worked for a certain retailer, we were never allowed to say "no".  We couldn't tell people that we didn't have something.  Instead, we'd offer to either order it (if it was something that we could order) or offer up other retailers that (may have) carried whatever it was they were looking for.

Nowadays you'd be hard pressed to find companies that really care about what you think about their product and/or service. Half the time they only care about the bottom line and won't give you a second thought.  Seems counter intuitive if you think about it, if you're displeased with something, you're more likely to look elsewhere the next time. 

What exactly is my point here?  Well, it all started with my mother...

My mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis about fifteen years ago.  She is a "lucky one" in that up until the last few year, her mobility has been slightly affected. Over the last few years though, she has needed to rely on a wheelchair when she goes to places where there is a lot of walking. She is able to walk around the house and her office while relying on a wall to hold her up when she gets a bit wobbly.  When she needs to go places that require more walking, like shopping, she asks myself or my father to go with her.  A lot of stores now have electric wheelchairs for customers to use and she's now at the point where she has accepted that she needs to use the chair.

The thing about my mother is that she does not "flaunt" her disability (please don't berate me for using the word 'disability' - my mother isn't afraid or offended by the word). She isn't one to say "woe is me", she doesn't hate the world or feel that the world owes her for what God gave her to deal with. She takes everything in stride and honestly she's not afraid to laugh about it.

She even had a little bit of a chuckle when what I am about to share with you happened...
My parents just flew out to California to visit with my mother's sister and family. My cousin, her two kids, my aunt and mother ventured over to Disneyland for an adventure.  And an [mis]adventure is exactly what they got.  My cousin wrote a great post here on her blog about what happened. I'm going to give a quick synopsis but invite you to please check out what she had to say as she witnessed most of what happened.

Most of their day at the park was fine.  They ran into a few instances where they weren't sure what the procedure was for someone in a wheelchair and it seemed the park may have been understaffed for a day during spring break. The biggest problem was when they went to ride on the Haunted Mansion.  From what my mother tells me, the cast member asked her if she was able to walk, she said "yes" so he had her "hop out" of her chair and enter into the elevator portion of the ride. 

If you've never been to Disney, or if it's been a while, there is an "elevator" which "stretches" and then goes dark for a brief moment - it's all to set the mood.  After the elevator, you walk down a fairly long hallway and on to a moving platform.  The elevator doesn't have seating so my mother had to hold on to my aunt in hopes that she didn't topple them both over. Then she made her way down the hallway and on to the ride.  Now, somewhere in there she was told to let "them" know that they needed to slow the ride down in order for her to enter/exit the "doom buggy".

She entered the ride fairly unscathed but the ending was another story. Suffice it to say that she couldn't get off in time and was left on the ride to make another go around (she was alone now).  When she got back to the end and was able to exit, her wheelchair, my aunt and the rest of the support was gone. They were all forced to exit for one reason or another, leaving my mother to her own devices.  The cast member couldn't have been less helpful. Again, if you haven't been to Disneyland or if it's been awhile, when you exit the ride you walk a short distance onto a people mover. People movers are not easy for someone with mobility/stability issues to tackle.  The cast member simply told my mother that "it's a short walk" - basically "good luck to you". 

My mother and company where annoyed with what happened, but my family being who they are, found the comedy in it all and went about the rest of the day.

After spending some time thinking about what happened, my mother decided to write an email to the customer relations department at Disneyland. She simply wanted to relay her concerns about the training (or lack thereof) and hoped for an apology. Instead, she got a proverbial slap in the face.  The woman never offered an apology.  She told my mother that she should have said something while she was in the park. She said she would forward the message on...

Long story short, my mother did end up speaking with the woman on the phone. Instead of listening intently to what she had to say, she went on to tell her what SHE did wrong. She was more interested in lecturing my mother than hearing that the cast members on that particular day, could have and should have had better training on how to handle someone in a wheelchair.

So much for Magic.  Disneyland, at least in my mind, has lost it's magic and I'm willing to bet that poor Walt wouldn't be too happy with the "magic" of Disney.

I'd like to add that we went to DisneyWORLD a few years ago with my mother and couldn't have had a better experience. I've heard many rumors that Disneyland had lost it's magic and am so very sad to know that the rumor appears to be true. 

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